Running arithmetic

A weekly activity I like using with primary classes combines numeracy with physical fun and takes up 10 to 15 minutes' hall time (or outside as an early play-time treat). We give it a name such as "Mental Madness" or "Place Value Party".

Distribute four differently coloured sets of team cards marked 0-9 - more able pupils could have two cards to hold. Points are given for the quickest group to be sitting in line ready, with the score kept by one or two children (a pupil with limited mobility might help with this), who use Unifix cubes in corresponding colours made into a bar graph. I ask questions about results later.

Quick-fire questions involving every aspect of maths from "3 more than 4" to "62 x 10" ensure that the children who hold the cards are ready to run out to the front. So three children will hold 620 (12 children from the four teams) The quickest team to the front gets a point. (And the quickest to sit down quietly.) Once standing in front, the children can be asked to make the smallest number from the same cards, and so on. It is interesting to see which children holding 0 will get up to be included in numbers involving hundreds. "Two hundred and thirty-four" will often be written 2034 in the early stages, and this is a good time to explain hundreds, tens and units.

I keep a tally of numbers required for answers, so all children have the same number of goes. All the children get involved and the game can be tailored to give success to children of differing abilities.

Angie Butler is a supply teacher in Penzance

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